Day 31: Kusadasi (Dilek National Park)

Posted: August 18, 2014 in Kusadasi, Turkey, Uncategorized
Tags: , , , ,

Today we drove the 26km to Dilek National Park… apparently half the population of Kusadasi did as well. The drive went smoothly (thanks to our handy dandy iPhone navigation) – although there were a couple of interesting moments as the highway comes to a grinding halt at the roundabouts in the middle of a couple of small towns.

Once we got into the park (15 lira for a car) we drove the 11km to the last beach (you can’t drive any farther – apparently there’s a high-security military installation past the last beach) and then started the exasperating process of trying to find a place to park on a single lane road with cars parked on both sides of the road… It was a series of go forward, back up, go forward, try to turn around… With some clown inevitably honking or trying to squeeze past into a spot easily three sizes too small for his BMW… Eventually we just gave up, turned around and went back to the start and walked a little further (maybe 200 meters) to the beach. Once there we found they were out of loungers and umbrellas (not for Marie or Caitlin – they’re sun-worshiping freaks who want to get that cancerous brown glow) so we threw our towels and stuff on the ground in the first available space and jumped into the inviting crystal blue waters… The beach here is a little steeper so the water gets deeper (and colder) faster than at Ladies Beach but it’s crystal clear, warm and super-inviting. Which is why everyone who’s anyone in Kusadasi was also at the beach today (it was a beautiful summer Sunday so a trip to the beach seemed like a great idea for everyone).

We splashed around a bit and relaxed in the water and then piled out onto the warm (actually smoking hot) smooth pebble beach… Marie and Caitlin added to their cancerous bronze glow while I pulled a shirt on and tried to keep the sun from turning me into a smoking husk. We stayed long enough to dry out swimsuits out pretty well then piled back into the car to make the drive back to Kusadasi.

Once we got back, we hung out at one of the restaurants on pub street that had wifi and updated the blog, checked in for our next flights and just hung out for a bit… Marie and Caitlin got bored while I was catching up on the blog posts and left to do some shopping while I stayed behind (it was a chore to sit in the cool shade and drink cold fruit juice while they braved the sun and tacky tourist shops).

The rest of the evening was spent doing a bit of souvenir shopping and then walking the promenade and finally topped off with dinner – at one of the waffle shops where Marie and Caitlin had banana-chocolate and strawberry-chocolate waffles as their last meal in Turkey.

When we got back to the hotel it was time to pack for tomorrow’s flights to Lisbon and turn in… Until the moment Caitlin emerged from the bathroom in her pyjamas and flopped on the bed… A few seconds after sitting on the bed she started to squirm a little and exclaim there was something on her bed that was prickly… That lasted about 3 seconds when she jumped off the bed screaming something had lit her butt on fire and started dancing around on the floor asking Marie to see if something had bit her and made her bleed… At that time a large ant scurried out from the blankets where Caitlin had been sitting…

The next few minutes were a comedy of errors as Caitlin’s dancing around in obvious pain complaining about being stung on her butt, I’m telling Marie to put some Sting Stop on it as soon as she can and Marie is basically taking her time doing her own thing, finishing her packing and generally ignoring Caitlin’s obvious (and growing) distress. Eventually, Marie decided that the half-naked teenager yelling “my butt’s on fire… is it bleeding… oh god I think it’s bleeding” was worthy of pulling her attention away from her pack and she took a look… So now you have to imagine a half-naked teenager standing on a chair showing her butt to her mother while wondering if something stabbed her with a spike coated in battery acid… It was all I could do to keep from laughing myself to death… Eventually Marie dug out the sting stop and slathered some on the quite visible welt left by whatever had bitten or stung her… Around this time, the ant (or so we thought it was) dropped out of some clothes Marie had picked up and she deftly stomped it with her sandaled foot and continued attending to Caitlin – who was still muttering something about her “butt feeling like someone had lit a match under it” and generally continuing to put her years of drama classes and acting experiences to work…

A few minutes later the “insect from hell” as Caitlin had taken to calling it, started moving again on the floor (and yes, Marie had actually stepped on it pretty good and it had promptly stopped moving). We managed to trap it under a glass and started looking on the internet for ants that bite or sting… Imagine our surprise to find out that Caitlin wasn’t bitten or stung by some kind of vicious Turkish ant but had, in fact, been stung by a wingless wasp – variously known as a “cow killer” or “velvet ant” – an insect noted for the potency of its sting (one site described it as having one of the most painful stings in the insect kingdom)… Marie was starting to feel a little bad at this point (now that it was evident that Caitlin had been stung on the butt by a wasp instead of just bitten by an ant) so she walked to the local market to get us all some drinks (especially a cold one in a glass bottle so Caitlin could put it on the quite obvious welt on her butt – a treatment used to good effect by Marie after she had bruised her butt quite spectacularly while horseback riding). Marie returned with a couple of cold drinks (no beer, though, because we discovered the market could not sell beer after 10pm) and eventually all the hullabaloo died down (although Caitlin continued to note that her butt – and her dignity – were sorely wounded)…

It’s really hard to put into words the humour of this particular incident… Caitlin is dancing around the room literally half-naked (having shucked her bottom clothes in fear of there being more than one hell insect) cracking jokes and trying hard not to completely “lose her crap” as she would say and I’m spending most of my time looking the other way trying to preserve her dignity (and trying to figure out whether we’re going to need to call an ambulance for her if it turns out whatever bit her is toxic or requires medical attention) and Marie is just kind of continuing to pack while occasionally checking the welt on her daughter’s butt and making appropriately motherly comments like “wow, I’m really impressed you didn’t cry – wasp stings really hurt…” – all the while Caitlin is continuing to come up with a series of ever more creative rants against the indignity of it all… It was definitely one of the funniest moments of the trip – except for Caitlin of course – apparently these things have a really painful sting and getting stung on the butt is definitely one of the more sensitive body parts I can imagine getting a wasp sting on…

Oh yeah… After identifying the culprit it was dispatched humanely… Turns out those suckers are really quite hard to kill… I have to admit I had never heard of a wingless wasp – apparently there are quite a few different varieties of them… I think this is just more evidence that someone up there either hates people or has a really twisted sense of humour…

Eventually (after thoroughly checking every square millimetre of her bed and clothes) Caitlin crawled into bed and we all called it a night – tomorrow we’re up bright and early to make the drive to Izmir Airport to catch our flights Lisbon! We’ve all really enjoyed Turkey but are looking forward to a change of scenery, a change of food and a change of culture… And Caitlin’s been waiting to go to Lisbon and Madrid since the trip started so is so excited that even a painful wasp sting can’t dampen her excitement for seeing Lisbon tomorrow!

We did take a picture of the offending insect but we didn’t take any other pictures today (left the camera back at the hotel rather than take a chance leaving it in the parked car or on the beach while we were swimming) – you’ll have to imagine the crystal blue waters and the teeming hordes of people…

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